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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting!
I like Michael Cobley a lot - his Shadowkings trilogy was an interesting deconstruction of the fantasy trilogy, and sadly overlooked IMHO.

Seeds of Earth is more conventional space opera. Gutsy, outnumbered humanity - check. A multitude of vaguely humanoid aliens with all too familiar (ie human) motives and politics - check. AIs running amok - check. Early...
Published on 31 Mar. 2010 by R. M. Lindley

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable
Renowned for his Shadowkings trilogy, its with a completely different tale that he now returns to the fold with this strange blend of sci-fi along with space opera with a touch of star wars built in. Mankind faces extermination from an alien species whose insectoid tendancies focus with their hive mind on the single goal. Interesting in concept, creative in scale...
Published on 12 April 2009 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Readable, 12 April 2009
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Renowned for his Shadowkings trilogy, its with a completely different tale that he now returns to the fold with this strange blend of sci-fi along with space opera with a touch of star wars built in. Mankind faces extermination from an alien species whose insectoid tendancies focus with their hive mind on the single goal. Interesting in concept, creative in scale however I was left feeling that it didn't quite deliver on the promise of the cover along with allowing me to feel that theres a lot more development that could have gone into the tale. That said, the sheer scope is not only ambitious but will allow the author to continue the tale in such a way that the tale could take any direction which hopefully the author will exploit along with the continual development of characters, I await the second novel with interest but its not going to be top of my reading pile.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting!, 31 Mar. 2010
By 
R. M. Lindley - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire (Paperback)
I like Michael Cobley a lot - his Shadowkings trilogy was an interesting deconstruction of the fantasy trilogy, and sadly overlooked IMHO.

Seeds of Earth is more conventional space opera. Gutsy, outnumbered humanity - check. A multitude of vaguely humanoid aliens with all too familiar (ie human) motives and politics - check. AIs running amok - check. Early ancient aliens with forgotten technology left over from the War at the Beginning of Time (TM) - check.

But it reads well, is funny and has some excellent action scenes. It very much reminds me of David Brin's superb Uplift series, right down to the assortment of aliens and client species. All it needs is a bunch of dolphins and a really bad pun about guerilla warfare.... Which is by no means a criticism. If you like Brin, or Hamilton at a pinch, you will like this.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sprouts, blooms and withers rather quickly, 18 Mar. 2009
I picked this up on the basis the blurb on the back said it was 'space opera' and I quite fancied something to get my teeth into. I was hoping for Peter Hamilton but I feel a bit like I got Kevin J Anderson instead.

* Plot: Although the premise is good, I feel the author reveals too much too early. The reader knows all the factions and (seemingly) their agendas quite quickly. I think one of the things I enjoy about epic stories is that the reader cannot tell where it's going to end up, or necessarily even the direction it's going. A lot of hints have been dropped and I rarely felt gripped enough to continue reading (so it lasted longer than a similarly sized small novel).

* Characters: Each chapter follows a different character, about half of whom know each other. However, I don't feel I've really got to know them in the course of this first book, perhaps because the chapters are so short there is not much time for each of them to develop.

* Composition: The author is painting on rather a large canvas. The world of Darien sits centre stage and some effort has gone into developing its background as a frontier world, but more could be done - I don't feel it compares well to contemporary authors' takes on a similar theme (e.g. Alan Steele's Coyote or Peter Hamilton's Lalonde). Its forest moon of Nyvesta is more interesting, but some of its mystery is taken away too early (as above). Meanwhile the political machinations of the wider alien societies - revealed by one of the characters careering across the galaxy to get to Darien - reminded me of the TV show "Babylon 5", which certainly brings in some needed colour.

Overall I think the author is trying to develop a rich tapestry, but the pacing is spoiling the tension. Admittedly that's subjective and some readers might enjoy events progressing quickly, but I don't associate this with 'space opera' which should be more of a slow burn. I'll probably buy the next book, but I'll definitely be keeping my guard up to avoid getting roped in to buying another "Saga of Seven Suns", which is what this most closely reminded me of.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A promising start to a new series, 13 Mar. 2009
By 
Mark Chitty (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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Seeds of Earth is the first volume in Michael Cobley's new space opera trilogy, published by Orbit in March 2009, here's the synopsis form the back cover:

"First contact was not supposed to be like this. The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning and swarmed locust-like through the solar system. Merciless. Relentless. Unstoppable. With little hope of halting the savage invasion, Earth's last, desperate roll of the dice was to send out three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. Earth may perish but the human race would live on... somewhere.

More than a century later, the human colony on the planet Darien has established a new world for humanity and forged a peaceful relationship with the planet's indigenous race, the scholarly, enigmatic Uvovo. But there are secrets buried beneath the surface of Darien's forest moon. Secrets that go back to an apocalyptic battle fought between ancient forerunner races at the dawn of galactic civilisation.

Life is about to change for the last children of Earth, as surprises spring from below and above. How will the Darien colonists react when all they have worked for is overturned at a stroke? And what choices will the Uvovo make when their true nature is revealed and the skies grow dark with enemies?"

The Uvovo and the human settlers of Darien and its forest moon have been cut off from the planet they once though lost and the other colony ships that fled Earth. Living alone on this planet has bought them together and they have built a thriving civilisation after a bitter war against their ship AI. After a mysterious event that caused life on Darien to be wiped out 100,000 years ago, investigations are ongoing to try and uncover the cause of this event. The Uvovo that live on the forest moon can shed no light on the matter, although the ancient and mysterious Pathmaster - an entity long thought dead - has now shown himself to the Uvovo in preparation for the events that are converging on Darien.

These events are kicked off by a ship from Earth announcing its arrival to the colony of Darien. Of course, the questions are raised on how Earth survived, what became of the Swarm and why are they now reaching out to this one lost colony. With a great Hegemony in this part of the galaxy responsible for Earth's salvation and subsequent expansion, humanity are finally living amongst the stars with advanced AI technology. With the discovery of the colony on Darien, a planet in the middle of a disputed section of space, the Hegemony and Earth representatives travel to assist wherever they can. With political maneuvering from both sides at every turn the Darien colony has its hands full, and with more and more revelations coming to light the decisions they have to make bear more and more weight.

Although the above is a general outline for the events in Seeds of Earth it doesn't do it justice without getting into the realm of spoilers. What Michael Cobley has done here is create a wonderfully vivid future that has been realised to the full. We have the large scale sense of wonder, from the perspective of the Darien colonists as the Earth ship arrives at the planet, the representative from Earth encountering the colony, and that of Kao Chih, a representative from one of the other lost colonies who himself is on the way to Darien for reasons I won't go into here. Everything that is done is what I love in space opera - a huge canvas, plenty of action, political sub-plots, hidden secrets, a well executed story and some good characterisation.

Seeds of Earth also contains one of the things I have a love/hate relationship with: info-dumping. If done well it can blend into the story and enrich it in many ways, if not then it can make the book drag and be a chore to read. Although not all of it is perfectly balanced in Seeds of Earth, I had only a few problems while reading, none of which was bad enough to stick out terribly and only a minor bump along the road.

As far as the characters go, there isn't so much a main character in Seeds of Earth, more like a good cast that all contribute to the story in their own way. Greg, a Darien colonist who is working on the excavation, is the closest we come to a main character for the main plot of the story. He is both likable and believable, something he has in common with all characters we encounter. Kao Chih is also a close contender, but his story is one of adventure, exploration and travel, all separate from the main story, although he is my favourite and Cobley uses humour to good effect during this sub plot - a regular occurrence that always put a smile on my face is the way that not one person he meets pronounces his name correctly, in fact they all pronounce it differently! The rest of the characters feel well rounded and supportive to the main story, each giving that little bit to the whole.

All in all I enjoyed Seeds of Earth considerably. It isn't perfect, but the foundation it gives for the future books is solid and the consequences of actions here will make for very exciting reading. Here's another author that is being added to my buy-on-release list and one that is a breath of fresh air into the genre with an intriguing, complicated and a well executed story. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Seeds of excellence, some on barren ground, 10 Mar. 2012
Right. This book and indeed the series has received some pretty mixed reviews, I come down on the positive side of the fence. I bought and read all three in sequence because the plot was such that I wanted to know what happened next - it kept my interest throughout. My review will cover aspects of all three.
Characters are on the whole good. I especially enjoyed the stoic dour Scottish vein that runs through some of them. The different races whilst occasionally a little confusing were relatively diverse - I would have liked to have seen more in the way of profiles and histories and notes, but that's not a big thing really.

Simply put you have your heroes and you have your villains, the author is not trying to create ultra deep challenge your belief system characters, this book isn't (like some sci-fi) pretending it's classic literature. Readers looking for a sensitive Danlo wi Soli Ringess (David Zindell, Requiem for homo sapiens) type characters will be disappointed. But if you want Skywalker and the like then you'll have no problems. Additionally while it may be Opera it's not hi-sci-fi, so the premises and the 'science' are underplayed, it's a 'warp well' you don't need to know how it works. Which is fine because consistent throughout.

The ship vs ship fighting was descriptive and well fashioned as was the growing political tensions that begin in book one and continue beyond. In fact that's one of the better points about the series, Cobley has an acute sense for well ratcheted growth, both in story and character. It's very much 'just when you think things aren't going to get any worse, something bad happens.'

Does it have faults? Yes. One or two sections are almost entirely superfluous. To the point it felt like Cobley went off his writing plan, then decided that rather than deleting the last 5 pages, he'd just have somebody rescue the characters. Having such a wide range of characters in a series that moves with a fair lick of pace, means that he doesn't always develop character journeys completely. Reactions to certain things are often...blasé "Oh my best friend died, oh well" and character's thought process - especially in relation to the person who killed the best friend - don't seem affected. The big 'monster race' of horrible cyborgs held up throughout the books as utterly terrifying 'if they break free' inevitably did break free and then weren't that terrifying - and just didn't seem that grievous.

But I enjoyed all the books and would recommend them. They're not going to be classic sci-fi, however they are good fun and don't take themselves too seriously. There are some lovely conceits put forward throughout the series, and some really imaginative descriptive moments. At times there seems to be a brilliant grasp of the horrific as well - look out for the story of the Hyperion's rogue AI when it get's explained a bit later. So basically - its' flawed but still good and worth your time and money.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Destination Darien, 27 Jun. 2011
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire (Paperback)
First volume in a new series of space opera. It runs for six hundred and twenty pages and is divided into four parts and various shorter chapters. Plus a prologue and epilogue.

It begins with the story of humanity's first contact with alien life. The latter being a rather aggressive bunch which leads to a battle on Mars. For the first page this take a few lines to really grab but then suddenly it does get rather good.

All this turns out to be a virtual reality recreation of said battle and part of a history lesson to tell viewers [and thus the readers] how humanity launched colony ships off into the great beyond at the same time in order to ensure we survive as a species.

Flash forward years later and the descendants of one ship have established a nice life on a world shared with aliens. Not being that aware that the latter have a few secrets.

Up turns a ship from Earth. Along with aliens. And with terrorists and aliens and many other creatures all of whom have their own agenda, the fight is on all over the place. And the galaxy may never be the same again.

Meantime what happened to the other colony ships? The descendant of people from one is about to start a journey of his own.

There's a lot going on here and thus the narrative has a lot to cram in. Not least the fact that the colony has had a few trials and tribulations in the past.

The scope is epic and the ideas are good but all this set up doesn't go along with very interesting characters. Thus the pages in the first third turn well enough but they never particularly grab.

The aforementioned descendant of those from the other ships turns up roughly halfway through and has a bit more depth than the other characters, thus his chapters do tend to be quite good, not least because he meets up with some other quite interesting characters on the way. But whilst the scope and the ideas are good, the writing simply didn't grab me as much as I'd hoped.

Everything comes together by the end and although it's relatively self contained there's also much bigger things to come. Which can be found in the next book The Orphaned Worlds (Humanitys Fire 2). Should you wish to continue with the series after this.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic space opera!, 30 Jan. 2010
By 
Mr. T. P. Booker (Stockport, Manchester, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I feel compelled to write a review for this book; I'm nearing the end and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.

I've noticed a couple of fairly negative comments including one referred to Kevin J Anderson as a negative which stumps me - Kevin J Anderson is a fantastic author. Seeds of Earth is a "space opera" novel; this means it is more akin with an action adventure story such as star wars than something nitty gritty from the likes of say Stephen Baxter. If you want realism in space then this is the wrong novel, so don't buy it and don't leave a negative review.

If, like me, you love strange alien species, complicated yet easy to understand twisting plot lines and of course fantastic battles both on land and in space then this book is quite simply perfect for you. This book is very much akin to Kevin J Anderson's "Saga of the Seven Suns" but with a more Steampunk/Star Trek'ian feel to it. There is a great emphasis on politices, but not so much to bore you. Cobley has created a rich and inviting universe which has a hell of a lot of history and a near infinate amount of resources for future storylines.

The writing itself is easy to read, quick and very entertaining. I particularly enjoyed the colloquial use of the Scottish dialect. The hero's are typical and easy to love, the aliens are weird and numerous, the enemy is sufficiently evil and overpowering and the good guys are as all emcompassing and virtuous as you could hope for. It is also topical in some respects.

All in all this is a perfect example of a space opera.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Curate's egg..., 23 Jun. 2013
Good in parts?

I think it needed another two drafts. And a review by an editor. Somebody really should explain to Cobley what colons and semi-colons are and how to use them and how not to have run on sentences that try to contain too many words and concepts and just don't stop because they're quite irritating to a reader.

Something similar applies to the plot lines. There's a lot going on, but each bit is really a bit simplistic.

A book for the 13-year old audience, probably.

(Still, it's a million times than Kevin J. Anderson, or Dan Brown.. I found myself hoping that in a few years Cobley might learn how to write..)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars read it, but I wont bother with vol 2, 20 May 2013
This review is from: Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire (Paperback)
Well I read it from cover to cover -- just -- I was hoping that it would get better but it did not!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at an intriguing universe, 13 Sept. 2010
By 
John Middleton (Brisbane, QLD, AUST) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire (Paperback)
Seeds of Earth is Michael Cobley's first foray into space opera after the Shadowkings fantasy series a few years back. What is written here is pretty much fantasy with technobabble - but you can say that about Star Wars too, so it should not be taken as criticism.

The novel opens with a prologue about the defeat of Earth's armies on Mars against the Swarm, an insectile race trying to overwhelm humanity. As a last throw of the dice, 3 starships were sent out into the universe on random courses, as "seeds of earth". The focus is initially on one ship which has colonised Darien, 150 years after the escape from Earth. On arrival, the colonists had to contend with an insane AI, which has led to distrust of artificial intelligence, and the attempt to create "Enhanced" humans. Darien is a pretty quiet place, with humanity co-exisiting with the native Uvovo people, who seem to be perhaps plant-based, although this is never made clear.

Then Earth discovers the lost colony. Earth was saved from the Swarm by the Hegemony, a race which is heavy on AI implants for its members - a trait some of humanity has adopted. The Hegemony are not particularly benevolent it appears, for all that they saved Earth in the historic past.

Another lost colony ship hears of the discovery, and sends an ambassador, who is befriended by an ancient robot on the run.

All of this is the backdrop for a millenia old conflict to rekindle - although who is who, and what is right, is hardly possible to know at this stage. Cobley tells a good story, and raises good questions in the mind of the reader. His universe is vividly drawn, and is a grimy gritty place full of aliens and robots, space stations and asteroid fields. This is an interesting first book in a trilogy, and if it is not groundbreaking, it is at least well written and enjoyable.
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Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire
Seeds Of Earth: Book One of Humanity's Fire by Michael Cobley (Paperback - 21 Jan. 2010)
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